40 Years of Critical Architectural Theory
40 Years of Igma

Vol. 13, No. 2, March 2009

  Gerd de Bruyn and Katja Thorwarth
Curator:   Eduard Heinrich Führ
Editorial assistance and Layout:   Ehrengard Heinzig

The subject and the articles of this issue are published in short versions in the journal "Der Architekt", no. 1/2009; subscriptions are possible via:
Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH



Architectural Theory and Philosophy
Jörg H. Gleiter   "Monument of a Crisis"
Boris Podrecca   Theory laterally
Kari Juhani Jormakka   Disguise the Limit:
The Misosophy of Architecture

Architectural Theory and Science
Eduard Heinrich Führ   The Art of Subjunctive.
A Plea for a Self-Aware Theory of Architecture
Alban Janson   Concrete Theory. Remarks of a Practising Architect Concerning the Relationship of Architectural Theory and Science
Susanne Hauser   Architecture, Research, Knowledge, and Science
Georg Franck   Is Architecture a Science?

Architectural Theory and Zeitgeist
Annett Zinsmeister   Fanning out Jubilantly, Searching Tumultuarily
Karin Wilhelm   "Anything is political".
Zeitgeist and Architectural Thinking around 1968

Architectural Theory and History
Philip Ursprung   The Architecture of the Empire:
Peter Eisenman's Greater Columbus Convention Center (1993)



Architectural Theory and Philosophy
___Jörg H. Gleiter
Berlin / Bozen
Monument of a Crisis

Compared to the other humanities, architectural theory is a recent academic discipline. It is just 40 years since the founding of the Institut Grundlagen der modernen Architektur (Igma – Institute for the Fundamentals of Modern Architecture) at the University of Stuttgart saw the institutionalisation of architectural theory as an academic subject. Like all new academic disciplines, the paths taken by architectural theory were exhilaratingly intricate, from the structural models of the 1960s through to Manfredo Tafuri’s ideological criticism and the re-semiotisation of architecture in the 1970s. A riot of speculative thought dominated the years of postmodernism, giving way in the 1990s to a peculiar brand of uncertainty. Unlike previous technological revolutions, the new digital technologies are no longer limited to the construction site, but intervene directly in the design processes, i.e. in the practice of architectural thinking. The knowledge of theory itself, its methods and objectives are now at issue. The honeymoon period for this young academic discipline is clearly over.

Paper in German

___Boris Podrecca
Stuttgart / Vienna
Theory laterally

Um die Bedeutung und Rezeption einer theoretischen Position heutzutage zu orten, ist es notwendig, ihr gegenwärtiges Setting zu skizzieren. Architektur wird immer mehr zu einem Diskurs, bei dem unter dem Druck der Globalisierung, der Medien und dem Konsumdiktat sämtliche Themen wie Film, TV, Werbung, Event, Design, Label, Politik als smarte Korrelate miteinander ringen.

Paper in German

___Kari Juhani Jormakka
Disguise the Limit:
The Misosophy of Architecture

"Thought is primarily trespass and violence, the enemy, and nothing presupposes philosophy: everything begins with misosophy," claims Gilles Deleuze who goes on to argue that "Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental ‘encounter’. What is encountered may be Socrates, a temple or a demon." To flesh out this thesis, let us consider Plato’s parable of the cave, his account of the first moment of philosophical enlightenment.

Paper in English


Architectural Theory and Science
___Eduard Heinrich Führ
The Art of Subjunctive.
A Plea for a Self-Aware Theory of Architecture

This inquiry on the subjunctive character of a theory of architecture deals with the questions, whether and how far architecture were science, what may be the scientific character of the architecture as a science, furthermore what could be a theory of architecture in this context, and which functions it could have.

Paper in German

___Alban Janson

Concrete Theory. Remarks of a Practising Architect Concerning the Relationship of Architectural Theory and Science

Architectural theory should not treat the relation of various scientific fields to architecture, but has to explore the nature of architecture itself. Architectural theory that moreover claims an immediate practical value for architectural design would have to coincide with the very act of conceiving. Such a theory has to be examined in respect of its relationship to science. Unlike sciences, which describe the existing reality claiming general validity, an architectural theory with relevance for the architectonic practice has to take into consideration that any architectonic project counts only for one single situation. Every time it represents something new that cannot be deduced.
Regarding this it will be proposed to apply to architecture the method of abduction described by Ch. S. Peirce, besides demonstrating the scientific character of architectural design (according to Achim Hahn). In order to ascertain precisely the notion of architecture being the subject of design its characteristic properties have to be specified carefully.

Paper in German

___Susanne Hauser
Architecture, Research, Knowledge, and Science

The paper discusses the situation of architecture in the field of contemporary academic research and the specific architectural ways of dealing with knowledge of different types. It suggests that the explication of architectural strategies in dealing with complexity might be an important contribution of architectural research, as no other academic discipline has to cope with complexity to such a great extent.

Paper in German


___Georg Franck

Is Architecture a Science?

The question whether architecture, as a corpus of knowledge and a mode of knowledge acquisition, can be addressed as a science depends on the particular problem it is supposed to be a solution to. Architecture has to serve needs of physical life as well as desires of psychic experience. In order to deal with both these demands problem solving in architecture has to partake both in scientific research, as conventionally understood, and in artistic research. Artistic research differs from scientific research in that it has to do with non-analysable problems and hypotheses that cannot be tested by measurement. This does not mean, however, that there are no systematic ways of knowledge acquisition and testing. There are evolutionary ways of problem solving and there is a process that selects canonical quality in the long run. The paper goes into the question of what it means for architecture to effectively and efficiently make use of its two-fold resources knowledge acquisition.

Paper in German


Architectural Theory and Zeitgeist
___Annett Zinsmeister
Fanning out Jubilantly, Searching Tumultuarily

The article describes Annett Zinsmeister’s creative work in the exciting contrast of theory. Her work with space is like a tigh-trope walk between different disciplines and impressed by the handling of different media supplemented by the reflection about their meaning and conventions. Her work ranges from drawings and photography, via installations to built spaces. Theoretical publications come long with her creative work and relate the artistic practice to theoretical discourse. By means of three topics (Plattenbau, Media and Folds) Annett Zinsmeister shows projects within different disciplines and elu-cidate her interdisciplinary methods that include architectural planning as well as a variety of art pro-jects and scientific publications.

Paper in German


___Karin Wilhelm
Braunschweig / Berlin

"Anything is political."
Zeitgeist and Architectural Thinking around 1968

Around 1968, the profession of the architect became politicised in the context of a fundamental criticism of society. The technocratic production logic of the practice of reconstructing European cities – that hardly reflected upon itself – was now replaced by concepts of an architectural thinking that dealt with the production conditions of architecture concerning society as a whole. Based on a Zeitgeist discourse, as it was represented by Karl Jaspers, among others, architectural space was conceived as a thought-image and space of experience, in which the Zeitgeist was visually questioned as powerfully dominating ‘spirit’. The work of the group Superstudio is an example of this architecture theoretical response.

Paper in German


Architectural Theory and History
___Philip Ursprung

The Architecture of the Empire:
Peter Eisenman's Greater Columbus Convention Center (1993)

Although, or because, Peter Eisenman’s Greater Columbus Center in Columbus, Ohio (1993) made him into a star architect, it is rarely discussed. Yet, it offers a good opportunity to theorize the relation between globalised economy and architecture. How is the concept of "topological architecture" related to the changed perception of the environment, which comes with the globalized economy? Did architecture articulate an issue in the medium of spatiality for which there was no theoretical concept? And how is Architecture (with a big A) related to the speculative buildings of developers such as John Portman, or the commercial buildings of IKEA? Portman’s Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles had inspired Portman for his theory of postmodernist hyperspace. Does his, and Michael Hardt’s and Antonio Negri’s theories of the changed temporality and spatiality provide the much needed basis for a synthetic theory of contemporary architecture? How can the separated domains of political, economic and architectural theory be combined?

Paper in German


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